Tool’s new album is one of the most anticipated albums ever. The drama and hype surrounding this album have been astounding. Even the rumors about this album have given it all sorts of life before anyone even heard a single note. Finally, after 13 years of waiting, the long anticipated album has arrived. The big question though is, was it worth the wait? Well, in the next few minutes of you reading this, you will get my opinion on that.
I still remember hearing Tool for the first time and thinking this was really cool. The first song I ever heard was “Sober” and the video was pretty stimulating to watch. Undertow was obtained a few days later and after that I was hooked. When Aenima was released that changed everything. That album is a masterpiece straight up. Then 5 years after that, Lateralus was unleashed on the world and that left one hell of a lasting impression on everyone. 10,000 Days though, was a record though that took a long long long time to really get into but, one it finally clicked, it made sense. Especially the song “Right In Two.”
Now here we are, thirteen years removed from 10,000 Days and Fear Inoculum has finally arrived. The thing is though, was 13 years too long? Yes, yes it was. Allow me to further explain. When a band takes this long to release an album, one would expect the record to be truly masterful, evolved and takes things to another level. Each song on Fear Inoculum feels as though it was obsessed over, torn down and rebuilt to try and create a substantial song but, that amount of detail and agonizing over has provided a bloated sense that these songs are more than just a glorified wank fest. Instead, what was released was a self indulgent piece of art that is so wrapped up in its own ego that it’s truly hard to really get to the nitty gritty of what is there. It’s not that the album isn’t good, it is, it’s just that this album is drab and feels uninspired. I’m all for long songs. I love listening to an album that really takes you on a journey. This album however, only takes me on a journey to fall asleep.
That’s not to say there aren’t moments of brilliance on this album. The odd time signatures are aplenty and the Tool sound is ever prevalent. The song everyone seems to be so jazzed about is “7empest.” That song if you were to really cut the fat out of it has the potential to be one of the most legendary Tool songs in their catalog. That song really has some defining moments for the record. Fear Inoculum is definitely an album that, with the right amount of patience and time, one can come to really enjoy. This is not a casual listen type of album. As with every Tool album, there is a depth to it that takes time to unravel and decipher. This album not only has those elements but there also seems to be another level that they went to that isn’t quite easy to digest. Among the other gripes I have with the album is Maynard’s vocals. It’s as though his vocals were just placed in spots without the right amount of attention needed to truly highlight the singer. All the time spent working on the actual music and not having Maynard in the room really takes away from what this album could have been. Danny Carey is truly a drum champion but, even his parts on this album just like guitarist Adam Jones, tends to go on and one a bit too long and tend to drone on with no end point. That’s not to say they aren’t good at what they do, they just needed to reign it in a bit more and be more concise about the length of parts. My other issue is not having enough moments for Justin Chancellor to shine. On the previous couple albums, Justin had been at the forefront of many of the songs but, on this one he too seems to have taken a back seat and because of that, the album loses a bit of the aura it should have with Justin’s bass tone and playing. The production on the album though is stellar. Sonically it does sound good and it’s mixed very well.
As I mentioned above, it’s not that this album isn’t good, it is but, it’s just rather drab and boring. I know there are a ton of you out there that think this is the be all end all of albums in 2019 but, it’s really just hype. After 13 years, this is the best that they could do? Maynard was even quoted in a recent interview that the album could have been released 8 years ago. I will continue to go back to this album and see if my mind changes about it. I’ve listened quite a few times and even with each listen, I still find myself wanting to reach for a pillow and just drift off to sleep. One other thing, I do find it quite interesting that both the Tool and A Perfect Circle albums have been quite underwhelming. Is it possible that after all this time both bands have lost the fire that once drove them?
Overall Rating: B-
Tool- Fear Inoculum: